Mancha, Kay and double-play sends Team USA into Vancouver Challenge championship

Written by Bob on July 3rd, 2017

TYLER DUDLEY an infielder for the USA Men’s National Team is one of the bright young stars helping to elevate the national team back to worldwide prominance in men’s faspitch softball. In the Vancouver Challenge, he turned a game-ending double play to give Team USA a 2-1 victory over the South Hill Giants to send the Americans into the championship game. Courtesy Photo USA Softball

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada – Team USA needed a big game from someone in the circle. And they got it from Tony Mancha.

The right-hander from Las Cruces, New Mexico delivered an inspiring, extra-inning, 2-1, victory over the tough South Hill Giants in the Vancouver Challenge, Sunday.

The win sends Team USA into the championship, where they will battle either Canada (5-0) or New Zealand (4-1), who square off in the final playoff game to determine who will face the Americans for the title.

Certainly, Mancha was the man of the hour. But in this sparse run-scoring contest, someone also had to step up big at the plate: Bryce Kay answered the call big time, hitting safely in all three trips to the plate.

None bigger than his final at bat.

With the game tied 1-1 after seven, Kay homered deep over the left-field fence to give Team USA the win. Batting leadof, Kay scored in the first inning after walking and later scampering home on Erick Ochoa’s ground out.

As the game went on, it appeared that Kay’s run might be all Mancha would need. But South Hill refused to be shutout.

Much like Houdini, time and again Mancha escaped treacherous trouble. Over the final five innings, South Hill threatened four times. But only in the sixth did the Giants finally break through when Bruno Matroni led off with triple to centerfield, and with two out, came home on Ty Sebastian’s double.

Now with Sebastian on second as the potential game-winner, Mancha toughened to strike out Shea Bryant to end the threat.

With Kay giving Team USA the go-ahead run, the question was, could Mancha make it stand up for the game-winner?

Mancha did, but not without South Hill’s batsmen having him reeling on the ropes.

South Hill – loaded with several of Canada’s finest fastballers – loaded the bases on a leadoff double by Blair Ezekiel and walks to Matroni and Kris Waverick, sandwiched around a Mancha strikeout.

That brought Sebastian to the plate, who had already driven in the Giants lone run in the sixth. But not this time. Second baseman Tyler Dudley and first sacker Jonathan Lynch saw to that.

The duo pulled Mancha out of the jam with a game-ending double play to put Team USA in contention for the title and improve to 5-1 in the tournament, 18-1 overall.

Mancha finished with a seven-hitter and 17 strikeouts with three walks. He has emerged as one of the top hurlers in the tournament with a 3-1 record in 20 2/3 innings, with 34 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA.

Though saddled with the loss, South Hill’s Jeff Farion was tough on the Americans with only three of the batters in the lineup able to garner hits. Farion (3-2) went the distance and rung up 10 strikeouts with one walk, while allowing six hits.

For Team USA, Kay was perfect at 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI, while Dudley went 2-for-4, and Marchus Tan, 1-for-3.

South Hill was led by Matroni, 2-for-3, run; and six batters with a hit each.

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